organizing non fiction

by John
(Ofdensburg,ny 13669)

Question: what are some additional methods for organizing non-fiction?


Answer: It rather depends on the type of non-fiction.

If you're writing a book on the history of something or someone, it's typical to present the events in chronological order, though sometimes you can begin at the crucial event and then tell the story of how things got to that point.

With literary non-fiction, it is typical to structure the book the same way you would a novel. The difference is that you are documenting events that actually happened, rather than making them up.

In journalism, the general format is to answer the key questions in the first paragraph and then expand on them in subsequent paragraphs in order of declining importance. A variation on this (commonly found in magazines) is to present a key event in the first paragraph and then continue as before.

If you're writing a "how to" book, then it's common to use a step-by-step organization taking the reader through the process in the same order they would follow in real life. A variation (for instance, if you're teaching something that has levels of competence) is to start with the lower or introductory levels and move towards the advanced levels.

Other books may begin with a summary - a thesis or preface that introduces the key message - followed by any number of chapters intended to prove the thesis and ending with a chapter on the broader implications.

And some non-fiction books are simply collections of articles or essays, each of which could be published (and may have been formerly published) on its own. They typically, but not always, have a topic that links them together.

If you have a book project in mind, it can be very helpful to take a look at a number of successful books similar to what you have in mind and take note of the way their authors presented the information.

Click here to post comments

Join in and submit your own question/topic! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Questions About Novel Writing.


 Step-by-Step Novel Planning Workbook


NEW! Make Money Writing Nonfiction Articles


"I've read more than fifty books on writing, writing novels, etc., but your website has the most useful and practical guidance. Now that I understand how a novel is structured, I will rewrite mine, confident that it will be a more interesting novel." - Lloyd Edwards



"Thanks to your "Create a Plot Outline in 8 Easy Steps," I was able to take a story that I simply just fooled around with and went willy nilly all over, into a clearly defined, intriguing battle where two characters fight to keep their relationship intact, and try to find a balance in control of themselves and their lives. Thanks to you, I'm not ashamed of the poor organization of my writing." - Nommanic Ragus

"I am so glad I found your site. It has helped me in so many ways, and has given me more confidence about myself and my work. Thank you for making this valuable resource, for me and my fellow writers. Perhaps you'll hear about me someday...I'll owe it to you." - Ruth, Milton, U.S.A.

"I never knew what to do with all the characters in my head, but since discovering Dramatica I am writing again in my spare time. Thank you for making this available. Yes, it is a bit complex, and it does take time, but I love it because it works." - Colin Shoeman

"I came across your website by chance. It is a plethora of knowledge, written in a simplistic way to help aspiring writers. I truly appreciate all of the information you have provided to help me successfully (relative term) write my novel. Thank you very much!" - Leo T. Rollins

"I can honestly say that this is the first website that is really helpful. You manage to answer complex questions in relatively short articles and with really intelligent answers. Thank you for taking the time to write these articles and sharing them so generously." - Chrystelle Nash

"...had no idea that a simple click would give me such a wealth of valuable information. The site not only offered extremely clear and helpful instructions but was a very enjoyable read as well. The education from your wonderful site has made me a better writer and your words have inspired me to get back to work on my novel. I wish to give you a heartfelt thanks for How to Write a Book Now, sir." -- Mike Chiero